This week, the U.S. Congress will vote on whether to support sending U.S.troops to Bosnia to help secure the peace.
Over the past two weeks, I havetestified before six Congressional committees explaining our mission and urgingthem to support it.
I told them that I believe that their support is acritical test of America leadership: We can either participate in the peaceimplementation force, with its attendant risks, or allow the Bosnian war torestart, with those attendant risks, including the risk of a wider, more deadlywar starting in Europe.
Before I discuss these risks, and how I believe that we should deal with them,I'd like to briefly reflect on how we got in this spot.
Four years ago,Yugoslavia, which was a nation created by the Versailles Treaty, began to comeapart.
As constituent entities, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosniadeclared their independence.
When Bosnia-Herzogovina declared itsindependence, both the Serb and Croat minorities in Bosnia rebelled.
Thisstarted a three-sided war within Bosnia which was greatly aggravated by outsideassistance, particularly the assistance of Serbia to the Bosnian Serbs.
From the beginning, many Americans said that we should not get involved in thewar in Bosnia, a faraway country with names and places we couldn't evenpronounce. James Baker, then Secretary of State, summed up this mood when hesaid, "We don't have a dog in this fight." So the proposal to use NATO to stopthe fighting and enforce a peace was stillborn, and the Europeans took on theresponsibility to broker a peace, while the UN sent in a peacekeeping force.But there was no peace to keep, and the lightly armed UN force was put in themidst of a bloody and fierce war.
During the first year alone there were about200,000 fatalities, and a wave of ethnic cleansing that created two millionrefugees.
As we saw the horrors of this conflict on CNN, and the peace talks droned onwithout
success, many in the United States thought we had a moral responsibility toenter the war militarily and impose a peace on the warring parties.
It isarguable that military intervention by the U.S. and NATO could have been quickand effective if it had been undertaken immediately.
But by the timePresident Clinton took office, a three-sided vicious war was raging all overthe country, and our military estimated that to impose a peace againstunwilling parties would take a military force of several hundred thousand, tieddown for several years, and suffering thousands of casualties.
Instead, we adopted a much more prudent policy: That we would not enterthe war to impose a peace, but would take vigorous actions to minimizethe civilian casualties and keep the war from spreading while working on anegotiated peace.
Then, if peace was reached, we would provide U.S. forces tohelp implement the peace.
It has been difficult to maintain this policy in the face of stridentopposition from supporters of the Bosnian government who wanted us to enter thewar on their side, or from isolationists who wanted us to avert our gaze fromthe atrocities in Bosnia.
Notwithstanding this pressure, the administrationhas consistently stood by its policy for the past two and a half years.
Andthis position has proven to be successful.
As a result of actions taken byU.S. and NATO military forces these past two years, civilian casualties, whichwere 130,000 in 1992, decreased to 12,000 in 1993, and 2,500 in 1994.
And our diplomatic actions have also borne fruit.
In 1994, we brokered anagreement between the Bosnian government and the Bosnian Croats, which resultedin ending some of the most vicious fighting, and in the formation of theBosnian Federation.
And finally in Dayton last month, we brought all of thewarring parties to a negotiated peace, with the first real prospect of stoppingthe war and its atrocities.
Now comes the moment of truth: We must fulfill our commitment to provide U.S.forces to give peace a chance to endure.
Indeed, the parties accepted thepeace agreement at Dayton only on the condition that we would send NATOmilitary force led by the United States to implement the peace.
Opponents argue that U.S. participation in the peace implementation force willbe risky.
I understand all too well the risks to our soldiers.
I havediscussed these risks fully and frankly with about 700 leaders of the Army's1st Armored Division, the backbone of the U.S. ground forces that will deployto Bosnia.
They had five basic questions they wanted me to answer:
Why are we going into Bosnia? What will our mission be? Who is going inwith us? When will we go in? And when will we come out?
I want to tell you what I told our soldiers.
First, why are we going in? Because we now have an opportunity to securepeace in Bosnia, and it's the only real opportunity we have.
If we walkaway from this opportunity -- make no mistake -the war in Bosnia will startagain.
The killings and atrocities will resume.
And we will face the risk ofa wider more deadly war spreading into Central Europe.
This is not an academic concern.
As recently as two months ago, it lookedlike an all out war was going to explode and dwarf the hostilities in Bosnia.We feared that full-scale fighting would erupt between Serbia and Croatia overEastern Slavonia threatening Slovenia and Hungary.
And with the flow ofKrajina Serb refugees into Kosovo, we feared that war could break out there andspread into Albania and Macedonia, which would threaten the stability of Greeceand Turkey.
If this were to happen, averting our gaze would not even be anoption.
So what our choice really comes down to is this: Send our soldiers tosecure the peace today -- or risk sending our soldiers to fight a wartomorrow.
I also told our soldiers what our mission is.
But first I told them what ourmission is not.
The U.S. and NATO are not going into Bosnia tofight a war.
They are not going into Bosnia to rebuild the nation,resettle refugees or oversee elections.
They are not under UN control-- and there will be no dual key arrangement.
This force will have a clearline of command -- under NATO -- and a clear mission.
That mission is to implement the peace.
The tasks of our forces are clear andlimited, and our soldiers understand them.
For example, they will mark andmonitor a four-kilometer wide zone of separation between the three factions.They will patrol the zone of separation and oversee the withdrawal of forcesand weapons away from the zone and back to their cantonments.
They willenforce the cessation of hostilities.
The military objective is to provide asecure environment.
This will allow international civilian organizations tostart helping the Bosnian people rebuild their nation, resettle refugees,oversee elections and achieve a stable balance of power.
These civil functions are very important -- the success of peace in Bosniaultimately depends on them.
And the success of these civil functionsultimately depends on the security our forces will provide.
In providing thissecurity, our forces will face very real risks, and we must expect casualties.But we are taking significant actions to minimize those risks.
Most importantly, we're only going in after a peace agreement is signed, atthe request of the parties. They have agreed not only to have peace, but tohelp implement that peace.
So we do not expect to meet organized opposition.But even with that agreement, we believe that there will be individuals andgangs who will not accept the judgment of their leaders and may, therefore, tryto resist.
Therefore, we are going in with a large and very well-armed force-- 60,000 troops on the ground in Bosnia, 20,000 of them American, built aroundthe 1st Armored Division with Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles andApache helicopters.
This is not a lightly armed force like the UN -- and itwon't be pushed around like the UN.
It will have complete freedom of movementand the strength to impose its will.
Some have argued that we don't need such a large, powerful force on theground.
But if we err on sizing this force, I prefer to err on the large side.If it turns out we don't need that many forces, we can pull some of them out.That's a lot better than sending too few and scrambling to put more in later.
This force has been well-trained.
Every battalion in the 1st Armored Divisionhas spent
the last 2 months preparing for this mission, including a week at Graffenwoehr,Germany, getting refresher training in basic combat skills, such as tankgunnery practice.
Then they spent another week at Hohenfels, Germany, where wehave created a mini-Bosnia -- complete with villagers, Serb and Federationarmies, para-military units, blackmarketeers, smugglers, UN and NGO officials,bad roads, snipers, mines, mud and CNN.
The units are run through everyconceivable scenario, guided by British, French, Dutch and Canadianpeacekeepers who have served in Bosnia and have seen it all.
Every time thetrainees succeeded, the trainers made it tougher -- General Joulwan told methat he wanted to "make the scrimmage harder than the game."
I told our soldiers we would not be going in alone.
Indeed, all of the NATOnations except Iceland -- which does not have a military -- are sending troops.In addition to the NATO nations, more than 15 non-NATO nations have steppedforward and offered troops.
The NATO operations plan divides Bosnia into threedistinct areas -- each with a NATO multinational division, one built aroundAmerican units, one French and one British. Each area has its hot spots.
TheBritish will lead in the western section, which includes Bihac and Banja Luka.The French will lead in the southeastern section, which includes Sarajevo andGoradze.
And the United States will lead in the northern section,headquartered in Tuzla, which includes the narrow corridor that connects theeastern and western part of Bosnian Serb territory.
The American division will be joined by troops of many other countries.
Forexample the Nordic nations are going to form a brigade made up of troops fromNorway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and perhaps Poland, Latvia, Lithuania andEstonia.
The Nordic brigade has already served where our troops will becentered.
They know the terrain, and can share their experience with ourtroops.
Turkey also has a battalion in the Tuzla region, and they willreinforce that battalion and put it under the U.S. division.
Finally, we'll be joined by a Russian brigade of more than 2,000 soldiers.This is an historic development.
I have spent my entire career as a ColdWarrior, and I never dreamed there would be a Russian brigade operating in anAmerican division following commands of an American general to secure peace inCentral Europe.
Our soldiers wanted to know when they were going in.
I told them they'regoing in the day after the signing of the peace agreement, which is scheduledfor this coming Thursday.
Our plan is to go in fast, and go in over land.
Thebulk of our forces will go by rail from Germany to a staging area in Hungary --which by the way has demonstrated overwhelming support for our operation.
Weexpect to have half of the force into Bosnia and operating within three weeks,and the entire force there in six to eight weeks.
Their way is being pavedright now by a small contingent of enabling forces -- including U.S. personnel-- that have already begun to deploy to Bosnia.
They will set upcommunications, logistics, intelligence and other assets so the main body ofU.S. and NATO troops will be able to enter swiftly and safely.
The last question our troops asked me was: "When are we coming out?" Thisquestion has been the subject of great and somewhat confused debate inWashington.
The answer is really very simple: We are coming out in one year,give or take a few weeks.
We will not be drawn into a posture of indefinitegarrison.
So the debate is on the wrong question.
The real question is, what will thesituation in Bosnia be when they leave at the end of one year?
Some things we can predict with confidence.
For example, we are confidentthat the military tasks spelled out in the Dayton agreement will be completed.The warring parties will have long since been separated.
The territories willhave been transferred.
And most importantly, the cycle of violence in Bosniawill have been broken for more than a year.
We also expect the civil tasks -- the rebuilding of Bosnia's economy,political system and society -- will be well underway by a year's time.
Butit's much harder to state with confidence how far along they will be.
In anyevent the departure of our military forces will not depend on how far thesecivil tasks have progressed.
The NATO implementation force will provide asecure environment for a year -- a breathing space or a "cooling off" periodafter 4 years of bitter fighting.
Finally, this cooling off period will allow time to form a reasonable militarybalance in the region.
This is critical to peace in Bosnia, because a primarycause of the war in Bosnia was the dramatic imbalance in arms between theBosnian Serbs and the Bosnian government four years ago.
We do not want toleave Bosnia a year from now with that kind of instability left behind.
Obviously, the best way to deal with this problem is by reducing the arms inthe region.
Even a month ago, this seemed far-fetched. But in fact, the Daytonagreement includes a very specific arms control program modeled after the CFE-- the Conventional Forces in Europe agreement -- that has been successfullyimplemented in Europe, resulting, in fact, in the destruction of 40,000 piecesof military equipment.
The parties in Bosnia have six months to get thatprocess well underway, and we believe they can reach full compliance in a year.The U.S. has said that it would ensure that the military balance is achieved.But if the arms control program does not bring a military balance in theregion, the U.S. is prepared to work with other countries to ensure that abalance is achieved.
The wide participation in the Bosnia peace implementation force is a symbol ofthe new Europe.
It will define how we handle European security for decades tocome -- and advance U.S. security as well.
And it answers a question that'sbeen lingering since the Cold War ended: Does NATO have a reason to exist? Toparaphrase Mark Twain, reports of NATO's demise have been greatly exaggerated.Instead of disappearing, NATO is enjoying a renaissance.
NATO has dealt withBosnia with unity, purpose and might.
It has planted the seeds for a moretrusting and cooperative relationship with Russia.
It has become the onlyinstitution capable of providing for the stability and security of Europe fromthe Atlantic to the Urals.
No wonder more than a dozen nations in Eastern andCentral Europe are emulating NATO nations and petitioning to join NATO.
But the Bosnia peace effort depends on U.S. leadership.
That is the lesson ofDayton, where U.S. leadership made the difference in diplomacy.
That is thelesson of the NATO bombing campaign, where U.S. leadership stiffened theresolve of the European naitons.
It is the
lesson that European leaders repeat to me at every meeting.
At the NATOdefense ministers meeting last month, one European defense minister summed uptheir view on IFOR, the NATO Peace Implementation Force: "We will go in withthe Americans.
We will act with unity.
We will go out with the Americans."
We understand the risks of this mission.
We also understand the risks ofletting the war continue.
We do not live in a risk-free world.
We have tochoose between different risks, and pick the one that is less risky and whichaccomplishes the most for us.
If we choose to let the war continue, we must beprepared to avert our gaze from the killings and the atrocities, and we must beprepared to take the risk of this war spreading.
Anybody who doubts thatshould talk with the leaders of the countries that surround Bosnia.
We have rejected the choice of not participating, of averting our gaze, oftaking the risk that the war will spread.
Instead, we have made the choice totake the risk for peace.
I understand the impulse by some to avert our gaze from the troubles of othernations far away.
That same impulse was at large in the free world in theperiod before the Second World War.
In 1938, after Hitler had annexed theSudetenland, Neville Chamberlain said that it was incredible that life inBritain could be affected, and I quote, by a "quarrel in a faraway countrybetween people of whom we know nothing." Contrast that statement with astatement that President Roosevelt at the time in a speech right here inChicago.
He warned that, "War is a contagion -- it can engulf states andpeoples remote from the original scene of hostilities. "
These two distinctly different world views clashed a half century ago, andthey clash still today.
President Roosevelt concluded his speech in Chicago 58years ago by saying: "America hates war ... America hopes for peace ...therefore, America actively engages in the search for peace." I believeAmerica still looks at itself that way today.